Monday, July 18, 2016

Base Building

Okay, base building is a simple concept, yet I don't think I've done this correctly in the past 1-2 years.  So, this summer feels like a great opportunity to build my base mileage and gear up for whatever I feel I need to race in the fall.  And, unlike my training leading up to Boston, I didn't really have a base which can sure explain a lot from that outcome...

So far, things are going well.  My mileage is not where I'd like it to be, but I guess that's what happens when you start off slowly.  And, I'm not too worried about that.  My ultimate goal is to build slowly towards 90 miles a week in singles, and then see how the body feels.  Once that magic number is being plotted down in my running journal, then I can start to incorporate some workouts.  It's no secret formula, it's just a matter of being patient and diligent about the mileage.  My body seems to be holding up with minor aches and pains here and there, but that's expected as well.

On the near horizon, I have La Luz mountain run and hopefully test out the legs with a road 5k in August.  And I'd love to see some 80-90 mile weeks mixed in there as well, but it's tempting not to try a workout.  I really do miss those tempo runs, or speed sessions, but ultimately I don't have a major race planned this fall, so I'd better just stick to my gut and build those miles!  I sound like I'm trying to sell myself on this plan, but I haven't just run miles without workouts in a while.  I think my body needs that.  And to mentally change it up, I've been plotting out new runs and routes from my house.  Right now, I've got a sweet 10-12 mile loop.  And of course, I've been hitting the foothills a little more.  Onward and upward!

La Luz Start... 2009... I think

Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting Ready for Summer Training

As summer is approaching at super sonic speed, and my body is starting to feel recovered after my death march of a race in Boston, I can honestly say I'm excited to train for another marathon.  The cataclysm of a race in Boston was humbling and stocking.  I feel I will forever have some PTSD, or some extensively repressed memories from that "race".  It was a stock to know I was never in the shape I thought I was in. In fact, I probably had no clue what shape I was in and could've just picked a random time out of a hat.  Instead, I incorrectly guessed I was in 2:30 shape.  And with the weather being a little warmer and dryer than usual, I knowingly went out even faster than my self-prescribed time.  I believe I latched on to a 2:28 group and dumb heartingly strolled along for as long as possible; which was only about 9 miles.  After that, the rest was a painful blur.  It was a long crawl home to the finish, and two distinct things came to mind after I was painfully lifting one leg after the other.  One thought was the fact that I wasn't injuring myself in the slow and miserable process I called, running. And the other thought was how actually grateful I was to be on the pavement in Boston, running in the Boston Marathon.

The thought of running in the Boston Marathon is a dream of mine and many runners alike.  Of course, my dream of racing Boston wasn't to see the hour mark tick anywhere near 3 hours.  But I was still beyond appreciative of being able to run the distance and make it from start to finish without hurting myself.  The only thing I hurt was my reputation, and that will take some time to heal.  Otherwise, I saw zero reason to quite and drop out.  I've never dropped out of a race in my life, and I sure as heck wasn't going to drop out of the Boston Marathon.  I thought to myself, I may never get the chance to race/run in Boston again, so you better not drop out.  I have my pride of running quick and putting everything I have on the line in most of the races I compete in.  I hate losing, but to me; the worst thing than losing is giving up for the shake of not winning.  I've talked to a lot of people after the race, and I've gotten a lot of congratulatory compliments, but of course I know I ran beyond what words could describe as horrendous.  "Like Crap" or "I don't even know what happened" are my usual responses to most people who have an idea of how slow I ran.  But, deep down it was a learning experience and I learned a lot.  I learned you can't average low mileage and only one 20 miler and expect to run a fast marathon.  I learned how important all the workouts shape and build you as a runner.  And most importantly, I experienced how well you need to tune into your body and ask it to do something that's incredible.

Just before the screaming women of Wellesley College

So moving forward with a healthy and recovered body I can look to the sunrises of about 70 days of solid work-free training.  It'll be like I'm a professional runner once summer roles around in a sheer 3 days away.  I have my eyes set on the New Mexico road 5k championships this summer, along with many miles of training for a Fall Marathon.  The options are still there, so I haven't decided on what would be the best choice.  Part of me would like to run a lower key marathon and attempt to win one.  And another part of me wants redemption and attempt the fastest course possible with the best opportunity for a fast time.  It's still undecided.  The main factor that has been decided is some solid training.  I'll be looking to build my aerobic threshold and concentrate solely on marathon specific workouts this summer.  I'd like to get comfortable again with longer tempo runs and consistent mileage.  I also have been weary of a stress fracture recurring, so I won't be too aggressive with the double days or ├╝ber high mileage.  All in all, I have a great feeling about this summer and I'm excited to be back training again.

Prior to the Carnage

Pre-Race racing kit

An Old Roommate from College (Mike Crouch)


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Boston Marathon Approaches

The Boston Marathon is just over the amount of time it takes to cover Lent - 41 Days. It's quickly approaching with excitement and anxiety as many members of the Dukes Track Club continue their training. For me, I'm hoping that the third time is a charm, meaning I actually make it to the starting line and finish in a respectable time as compared to my first and second attempts. The first being hurt with an it-band injuring accompanied with a bit of pneumonia for good measure. I think the Boston marathon gods made sure I didn't run that year - 2013. Then the following year I was sidelined with not 1, but 3 stress fractures. So like I said, may the third time be a charm. 

At this point in my career and training, I'm praying to be fit enough to get this race under my belt.  After Boston I would like to move forward towards a more practical marathon build up with a greater opportunity to be more competitive... And to be "more competitive" is a relative term, I know. I feel that I'll always be competitive with myself and those I race against even when I'm 90 years old. But, for the brief amount of time I left with my aging body, I feel that I could still rub elbows with the best of them. This means chasing a half marathon and full marathon personal best.

The marathon is such an incredible event. Here in the US we have a 40 year old on the Olympic team, which gives me hope that perhaps my best marathon is still ahead of me, and not in the rear view mirror waving goodbye. That said, I sure hope it's a beautiful destination ahead of me and that I have the foresight to take the correct roads to the exit and reap the benefits of a pr. I'll have to plan more accordingly, take the proper precautions and train my body the proper way. 
I've said, time and time again, that the journey is worth more than the finish. So with this Journey to Boston, I've found myself stumbling... praying... rejoicing... contiplating and focused. I now know I'll make it to the start. I've had some good weeks, and some bad weeks, but at least I'm still training. Whatever happens on Boylston street will be a victory that I will tuck away quietly regardless of time or place. It will be one step closer in the right direction, and forever a race that I'll cherish with gratitude. 

Training week 2/29-3/6:
Mon. Off
Tue. 9 miles 3x800 (2:29, 2:33, 2:31)
Wed. 10 miles
Thur. 10 miles
Fri. 8 miles
Sat. 2 mile w/u 8 mile tempo (5:45, 5:50, 5:47, 5:48, 5:48, 5:51, 5:47, 5:39) 2 c/d 12 total. 
Sun. 18 miles

Total: 68 miles

Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Olympic Trials: A Relevance

With the Olympic Trials marathon approaching fast; heck the race is less than 24 hours away, it's very clear that I will not be there racing.  I miss that train last month.  In fact I missed that train what I was training and dealt with injuries for the last 2 year.  I feel a slight sense of a void for not being in Los Angeles with all my friends ready to compete.  No hype surrounded my life this go around, and with that, no expectations were ensued upon me either.  It's like I don't even exist, or have any relevance.  Now, I'm not trying to have a pity party over here, I'm just accepting the fact that I had a goal in early 2013 and watched that goal disappear over time.  Like many people always say, "It's about the journey, not the destination."  And I felt like I had a solid journey over the last 4 years.

To reflect back on my time and my attempt at chasing the standard, I learned a few things.  At the beginning, I thought it was a sure thing that I was going to qualify.  I felt that if I had one bad race, I could make that up in a few months and try again.  Injuries, age, and diet never crossed my mind.  So, when I look forward, I have to take a slower approach and think things through with more ease and preparation.

When looking back on my attempts, here are a few races that stood out in the last 4 years - since a runner's life can be measured in quadrants:

August 1st, 2013 - The USATF opens the Marathon Trials qualifying window. 2:18:00 for the full marathon and 1:05:00 for the half marathon are the "B" standards, and 2:15:00 for the full marathon is the "A" standard.

August 11th, 2013 - I finished the Rio Grande Half Marathon in altitude..... although I believe the course was short, and that would've been a remarkable performance at altitude.

September 8th, 2013 - I won the Skagit Flats Half Marathon in Burlington, Washington in a time of 1:06:47.  I ran solo for the entire race, so I had some good confidence going into the USA Marathon Championships, but still missed the 1:05:00 mark by a lot.

September 15th, 2013 - I won the Chips and Salsa half marathon in Albuquerque in 1:08:42.  And I was very pleased with that solo effort again.

October 6th, 2013 - Finished 20th at the USA Marathon Championships in 2:20:57.  Deep down I was really disappointed as I was attempting to not only qualify, but PR as well.  I felt strong and ran what I thought was one of my strongest marathon finishes ever.

January 19th, 2014 - Another fast, but not quite time at the USA Half Marathon Championships in 1:05:38.  That was actually the exact same time I ran 5 years earlier.  After that race, and disappointment, I finally looked at the positive and set my sights on the Boston Marathon, where I thought I was going to smash my pr since I was in incredible shape that early on...

March 1st, 2014 - The Phoenix Half Marathon, and where everything went south.  I probably ran this race with a stress fracture and ended up taking 8 weeks off once I realized I broke myself from this race.  I ran a respectable 1:07:52, but couldn't walk correctly afterwards.  THIS is where the downward spiral for 2 years started.

After Phoenix, I had to drop out of the Boston Marathon - a race that I have been yearning to compete in since my first marathon back in 2009.  From the 3 stress fracture that I had from that spring, to another bout of a stress fracture this past summer, I was only left to watch the Olympic Trials window slowly close shut.

So, at 10:06am PST tomorrow morning, the best men in the US will be competing against one another, the weather, and more importantly, themselves.  Each athlete tomorrow has an incredible story, but only a few will ever be showcased.  Each athlete tomorrow will be racing for a different reason, and only they truly know.  Each athlete tomorrow will also walk away from the race with a different perspective.  But I believe the true Olympic spirit will reside with them the rest of their lives, even though only 3 per gender will compete at the actual Olympics.  Just being able to say you were an Olympic Trials contender carries so much pride and accomplishment. I'm jealous (in a positive and satisfactory kind of way) that this year those athletes can participate and race with such passion that only comes once every 4 years.  It's going to be great!

Looking back, I can honestly say I had a good chase at the standard.  It's actually really fun chasing something like that.  Knowing that you shouldn't take anything for granted and having the opportunity to train your brains out.  Those are just a few of the benefits and commitment issues that an athlete must decide on.  On the down side; balancing social events, and staying out late and a few of the things on the other side of the spectrum that need to be prioritized and readjusted.  But, sooner or later, that opportunity won't be there anymore, as you can only run fast for so long.  I might as well take advantage of it while time may still be on my side.  Because later in life I will just have to be a supporter of the sport and cheer on those that will be doing the same thing - chasing the dream.

The Dukes Track Club - My teammates, friends, and biggest supporters.